Monday, December 28, 2009

The Cavalier Cook - Numero Cinco

In honour of having completed a chapter, I temporarily hung up my boots and set out clothes shopping. A morning and some later, I'm poorer by a few dozen dollars and richer by 1 lipstick, 1 t-shirt, 2 lotions and the same pair of shoes that I set out to exchange (don't ask). In the meantime, the busy bloggers have been making hay; for an update go here.

This evening, I have dance lessons and will then head out to dinner at a friend's. We are going potlucky, so for today's recipe, I need (a) quantity, (b) quality and (c) colour. See if this fits the bill?

Rice Tricolor and Pachai/ Raw Morekozhambu

Rice tricolor is a misnomer; yes I lied. I am merely going to list ways of presenting a large quantity of cooked rice in differently spiced assemblages. All these require the same set of spices, so with minimal effort, one can gain maximum credit. And not all of it undeserved either. These rice dishes used to be a once-a-week indulgence for my family. I grew up associating these with large lunches and long siestas. Also gaggling cousins and snoring grandfathers. Ah well,why malign just the men; snoring grandmothers too.

For eight larger servings, you will need:

(a) Four cups of rice

Cook with a little less than twice the proportion of water and make sure the grains are all well-separated, Basmati works best. This should yield eight servings/ cups. Once the rice is cooked, leave it out to cool thoroughly.

Assemble these before you begin spicing:
(a) Chana dal or Bengal gram dal
(b) Skinned white urad dal
(c) Rye/ Mustard seeds and Jeera/ Cumin seeds
(d) Red chillies
(e) Green chillies
(f) Hing/ Asafoetida (optional)
(g) Turmeric
(h) Curry leaves
(i) Vegetable/ Canola/ Groundnut oil

Rice Coloured Once: Lemon Rice

Blink and miss has beaten me to the post on this one, but "Rice duotone" just seemed wrong. So here's more or less the same recipe. One can never have too much south Indianness anyway.

For this, you will also need
(a) Peanuts
(b) Juice from three medium-sized lemons

* Heat oil in a deep wok
* Add a pinch of hing, lots of mustard and cumin seeds, turmeric and 2 red chillies
* Let this fry for a few minutes
* Add chana dal, urad dal and curry leaves
* Fry for 3-4 minutes until the lentils begin to brown
* Add 3 cups of cooked rice and add salt to taste
* Mix thoroughly and let this cook on medium heat for 5 minutes
* At this point you should be able to see the various lentils and spices peeking out at you like so many chocolate chips in a generously chocolated cookie
* Lower the flame to minimum heat, add lemon juice and mix thoroughly
* Fry peanuts separately and add to the rice

Rice coloured twice: Coconut rice

For this, you will also need:

(a) Cashewnuts
(b) 2 cups of freshly grated coconut

* Yawn yawn, by now you should have caught on
* Heat oil, add rye, 1 red chilli and a pinch of hing
* Add chana dal and urad dal and wait till then brown
* Add two finely chopped chillies and curry leaves
* Finally add the grated coconut (Fresh works best; go ahead and use frozen ones if fresh coconuts are not easily available). Fry for a few minutes until the coconut begins to brown and lose its raw smell
* Add salt and 3 cups of rice
* Mix thoroughly and lower flame
* I like to add a pinch of sugar right at the end; two years of living in Gujarat have left an indelible mark on me and I love the combination of slightly salty, sweet flavours.
* Add fried cashewnuts before serving

And sold: To the rice in the Sandman's garb!
Yogurt rice/ Curd rice/ Thayir Saadam

Where would I be without my thayir saadam? This used to my thachi mumum or in other word, rice that make you sleep. And oh yes, this will knock you out.

For this, you will additionally need:
(a)Ginger, peeled and chopped fine
(b) Coriander leaves
(c) Cucumber, peeled and chopped fine if you feel so inclined
(d) 1 cup - Whole milk
(e) Ghee/ Butter/ Clarified butter (do not skip this!)
(f) 3 cups of yogurt

* In a large bowl, beat together yogurt and milk with salt
* In a shallow frying pan, heat ghee. Add rye, lots of ginger, 2 green chillies, chana dal and urad dal and let this fry for a few minutes
* Add curry leaves and fry for a minute
* Add this mixture to the yogurt
* Into this, add 2 cups of rice and mix thoroughly
* Set this to chill in the refrigerator for 15 minute before serving

Accompanying, the trio, we have:
Pachai Morekozhambu

This is a watery yogurt spiced with the usual suspects. For this, you will additionally need:

(a) Whole coriander seed
(b) Chopped okra, squash or pumpkin.

* Lightly fry coriander seeds, chana dal and 3 dry red chillies
* Let this cool down and then blend into a viscous mixture with a little water
* In a seperate pan, heat oil and add rye and urad dal. Add chopped okra, squash or pumpkin and fry for a few minutes
* Add all of these to 2 cups of beaten yogurt
* Add salt to taste
* I added fresh minced coriander too, but this is optional for those not seeking to OD on the coriander family

And as Quick Gun Murugan might emote, Ensoy!

I am off to siesta and then a night of tango. Therefore, today;
I listen to: Astro Piazzola.

Such divine music!

Thinking about: Telangana and the myth of the nation-state form

From Benedict Anderson's "Imagined Communities", an excerpt:

My point of departure is that nationality, or, as one might prefer to put it in view of that word's multiple significations, nation-ness, as well as nationalism, are cultural artefacts of a particular kind, To understand them properly we need to consider carefully how they have come into historical being, in what ways their meanings have changed over time, and why, today, they command such profound emotional legitimacy.